No one can see the boys holding each other’s hands. Darkness and high, fragile mud walls hide their act of intimacy. Their gloved fingers, tightly intertwined, pull their bodies closer and closer. Buttons, loosely attached to their jackets, rub silently against each other.

Though tightly shut, tears still manage to escape from the light blue eyes of the younger boy.

Chests, now heaving in unison, collapse clumsily onto the soft, wet ground. Clutching, grasping, hugging so firmly, as if never ending. The boy with the brown eyes thinks about his present love and impossible future. His words stay trapped in a parched, locked mouth, pressed against the cheek of the boy he has never spoken to.

They both know that this is their moment of comfort; that there will be no second chance.

The boys never feel the cool westerly breeze, which has started to gently push away the enemy’s deadly chlorine gases from their lifeless, stinking trench.

Published: Fussilli Finalist